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KraussMaffei buoys individual brands, builds business unity

New ownership, new technology, and a new strategy to more closely meld business operations, if not brands, were emphasized by KraussMaffei at Fakuma 2012.

Fakuma 2012New ownership, new technology, and a new strategy to more closely meld business operations, if not brands, were emphasized by KraussMaffei at Fakuma 2012. "We can say that we have a unified company globally, but maintain individual brands," explained KraussMaffei CEO Jan Siebert.

In addition to combining business operations of its KraussMaffei and Netstal brands in China, Brazil, and most recently, the U.S., the company, which was acquired by Canadian private equity firm Onex three weeks prior to Fakuma (Oct. 15-19; Friedrichshafen, Germany) on Sept. 26, will be integrating much of its back-office operations, including adoption of a common ERP system.

Siebert, who succeeded Dietmar Straub as CEO in January, told PlasticsToday that the goal to unify company wide ERP platforms, going from the five it currently uses across its Netstal, Berstorff, polyurethane, and KraussMaffei units, is "ambitious but achievable," under its self designated two-and-a-half-year timeline. It also reflects a larger attempt to more fully integrate the disparate firms and technologies, without diluting their powerful brands.

"We have to keep our brand identity in the market," Siebert said, noting that Netstal represents a certain technology platform, particularly within packaging, while KraussMaffei offers a systems approach, combing polyurethane, injection molding, and automation technologies. "We have to keep that; these are established brands."

In terms of eliminating redundancies, Siebert asked rhetorically, "Why have two warehouses in the U.S., etc., both from a process and a cost side?"

New owners, same strategy
Reflecting on the company's sale by Madison Capital Partners to Onex, which was announced less than a  month before, Siebert said that Madison had held KraussMaffei for six years, quite a long time for a private equity investor, and that it was time. KraussMaffei also considers its new owners to be a different kind of private equity investor.

Netstal Elion 3200
Netstal expanded its Elion range of injection molding machines at Fakuma, adding a unit with 3200 kN of clamping force.

"Onex is a rather atypical private equity firm," Siebert said, noting its large number of employees and the fact that it's publicly listed on stock exchange. "Onex has a lot of know how in our market, and this made it attractive to us as managers. They can see eye to eye with us."

Siebert also stressed that once the deal is finalized, which is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2013, KraussMaffei expects its operations to largely go on as they have. "Onex purchased our business on the basis of our business strategy and our business portfolio," Siebert said.

Business "sound", "satisfactory"
The company released less details on its financial performance than it had at previous shows, with its most recent fiscal year having ended two weeks prior, on Sept. 30. Siebert described incoming orders as being "very sound" and registering a "satisfactory level," while adding that, "[you] never know how the economy will develop."

Despite some hints of a broader economic malaise, particularly in Europe and China, Siebert said that KraussMaffei doesn't anticipate a slowdown on the level seen in 2008, with his company's niche further insulating it. "We are not decoupled entirely from the broader economy in various regions," Siebert said, "but our focus is on high-tech segments." Siebert noted that at this time, North America is "actually a booming market."

Elion expands, GX debuts
At the show, Netstal introduced the next tonnage in its Elion line of all-electric injection molding machines, showcasing a machine with 3200 kN of clamping force. At Fakuma, the machine molded an inmold labeled cover from polypropylene in a 4+4 cavity mold with a cycle time of 3.4 seconds.

Fakuma was also the trade show debut for its GX Series of injection molding machines. In Friedrichshafen, it molded an automotive interior component utilizing physical foaming via MuCell technology (look for more technology coverage of Fakuma 2012 to come).

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